Sherlock Unlock: Outbreak


Outside the room

You should really read my review of their other room. The two rooms are pretty much the same, but I can’t bring myself to write a virtually identical review. In fact, I’ve decided to make up for the rooms being so similar, by trying to make the reviews a bit different…

So, picture it, our two teams have just escaped from the rooms with a combined time of well under 60 minutes. The next booking isn’t officially for another ninety or so minutes and everyone realises their next experience is probably not going to be a great game. I’m seriously regretting my decision to bring sandwiches rather than heading out for a meal at half time, but who’d have thought we’d have quite so much time on our hands?

A bit of half-time banter slowly turned into hushed discussion of the room. Hushed because clearly no one wanted to cause any embarrassment to the host next door. I made a joke about how they might take longer to reset the rooms than we did to play them. It turned out to be true. Fortunately, they had a couple of puzzles on the table to keep us occupied. They could do with buying a few more though, because we’d all had a go on them by the time they’d returned.


Actually, this one had a better story – about a mad scientist planning to unleash a devastating plague that would wipe humans off the face of the planet. Of course, we’d heard enough from the discussion to realise that the room wouldn’t have much to do with the story and, anyway, I don’t think we actually read the story the second time round.

Inside the room

Wow. The theming on this room was amazing. We walked through the doorway into a perfectly recreated office space, except for a couple of random props that somewhat ruined the ambience. You might scoff but, if I were a mad scientist that was creating a virus to kill the world, I wouldn’t do it in a laboratory, I’d create it in a sparsely furnished office – no one would suspect a thing. Possibly with a traffic cone in it – that would definitely put them off the scent!

Fortunately, we were pretty motivated because the other team was four minutes ahead of us, so we got right down to solving the room. We made several mistakes along the way, though (aside from booking the game), including totally failing to see a couple of things that were obvious. We were probably distracted by the amazing decor and mesmerised by the high-budget props. Seriously, there were times when I stared at them in total wonder.

As the game progressed and new pieces of laminated plastic appeared, we slowly got to see the mad scientist’s plan for world destruction. It mainly involved numbers and locks, but with occasional science references to remind us we were in, wait, which room was it again? Oh yes, Outbreak. Seriously – I keep forgetting which was which.

Oh, I totally forgot the best bit about the rooms when I wrote my previous review. They’ve got one of the best clue systems I’ve ever seen. I mean, it’s not much better than the usual ones, but when you’ve got a room like this, it’s the little things that bring you pleasure. They use a pretty font, and the clue doesn’t just suddenly appear – the text slowly flows on to the screen (in a fixed place – this isn’t some sort of 1990s web page marquee effect). And the clues were good, which was nice. Yes, this was definitely the highlight of the two rooms.

And the finale was out of this world. We got a clue which was literally a sum. Not a sum where we had to find two other things with numbers on them and then add the numbers together, but literally just the sum written on a piece of paper, like 438 + 724 = ?. It’s good to know that, not only are they testing our sleuthing and puzzling skills, but there’s a maths test thrown in as a bonus. Yes, technically that’s a bit of a spoiler, but frankly, so was playing this game. It spoiled the rest of the day. I think I should be forgiven a minor spoiler, but feel free to disagree with me and I’ll take it down. I definitely wouldn’t want to ruin your experience.


We got out in 30 minutes compared to the other team’s 25-minute exit of this room and got two clues along the way. That left us at 59 minutes and three clues overall, compared to their 51 and one clue. Yep, they beat us in every measurable way, thus not even giving us a glimmer of a silver lining to the cloud.

Verdict –

What can I say? This was one of the worst games I’ve played. It’s not a great sign that we were on our way home before the second game was even due to start. I didn’t even have the heart to stay for a drink. I felt so sorry for the rest of the team – as a reviewer I feel like I need to do bad rooms; not all my reviews can be rosy. As a player, though, they could have waited a few more weeks, seen what people said on TripAdvisor and then made a decision as to whether it was worth coming. As someone put it afterwards, “if I hadn’t come here I’d have gone on a run. I hate running, and I still wish I’d not bothered”.

Detailed Room Ratings

Wow! factor


  1. // Reply

    Hiya! I got the voucher for this so I guess will have to go now…:P So, do you recommend Outbreak or Chaos out of the two? I know, not an easy thing to recommend, which one sucked less? I’m going with some beginners and scientists so perhaps Outbreak might be more fun re theme?

    1. // Reply

      Tough choice. Overall I think I’d choose Chaos – I thought it was marginally better and the logic was slightly more sensible.

      What I’d suggest (and I’ve obviously helped here!) is to go in with very low expectations. Enjoy the rubbishness of the bad bits, and take pleasure in the puzzles that are a bit better. I find expectations can make a big difference!

      Oh – and play with the compass puzzle in the waiting area if you get the chance. It’s quite fun if you’ve not seen it before, once you work out how to get it open! Look for something bronze coloured, octagonal and about 3cm diameter with N/S/E/W written on it.

  2. // Reply

    Thanks for the tip! I’ll let you know how it went…my expectations are around -1 on a 1 to 10 scale

  3. // Reply

    Oh dear…went to Chaos and it was terrible. Truly terrible. We got out without having sold a puzzle (drawer was still locked). Everything cheap looking, confusing, just terrible. Sigh.

  4. // Reply

    Win some lose some. Don’t let it get to you – all of us were a bit disheartened, but the next couple of escape rooms reminded us that it was a blip. Have you tried Oubliette yet – that’s bound to help pick you up!

    1. // Reply

      Usually not, but after these games I was.

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